That one guy

Short post today, because to be honest there is almost zero going on in WoW until the main part of Blizzcon starts.

Today’s topic has to do with how to deal with “That One Guy” in your guild or raid team that drives you up a wall. You know the one. The guy (generic gender usage here) that insists on inserting himself into every conversation, that lets you know how insulted he is that he was not asked to join your instance group, that gets Terribly Hurt Feelings when told his damage numbers (below the tank’s in spite of very decent gear level) need to improve, that takes umbrage when asked to not make extraneous comments during combat in the raid voice channel, that feels slighted if lots of people do not LOL to his “witty” comments in gchat or any of the dozens of cat videos he spams the guild Discord channel with. He natters on for weeks before his birthday about how he doesn’t want anyone to make a fuss over it, he continually whines to everyone about his constant “migraines” or his mysterious sicknesses or perpetual tiredness and uses them as an excuse for snarky behavior. He is a professional victim of constant misunderstanding. He uses every gchat or voice channel comment as a springboard to “prove” his intellectual depth and knowledge. You know the guy. His picture is posted in the dictionary under “passive-aggressive”.

Usually if we think about it, the problem is not so much with That Guy as it is with our own response to him — lots of different kinds of people in this world, and we all have to learn how to deal with them in a civilized fashion, sooner or later. We need to adopt a mature, reasoned approach to the problem. We should be compassionate and allow for the possibility that maybe he has a real psychological problem. (Although we are not sure if there is a medical term for Compulsive Asshat Syndrome.)

But deep down what we are really thinking is, “I want to fling a mud pie in that guy’s face!”

Every time I have run into this situation — and it has not been often in my time in WoW — I feel like every solution is unsatisfactory. That Guy is so pervasive that it is virtually impossible to just not pay attention to him, he is the virtual equivalent of always in your face. Putting him on /ignore in gchat works to an extent, but there is the nagging feeling that you should not have to do that with a fellow guildie, that we should all be adults and just politely get along. Putting him on Local Mute in Mumble — or some equivalent — is possible, but you run the risk of wiping the raid because he might actually say something important to execution. Unlikely, but possible.

Responding to him — taking the bait — is not going to accomplish anything other than a drama situation for the guild, which is even worse than suffering this fool. Complaining about him to a guild officer or the GM just paints you as a whiny snowflake — they may actually feel the same way about him, but if he walks a careful line and does not technically break any guild rules, they would appear arbitrary if they kick him, and that perception is not good for a guild in the long run. (Although one wishes it were possible to establish an objective Jerk standard and anyone who met it could clearly be kicked …)

So there really are no good solutions. Unfortunately, the continued existence of That Guy can have subtle effects on a guild — we may decide to no longer log in on Wednesday and Friday nights, for example, because we know that is his prime game time. We start to think up excuses to call out on raid nights. We politely decline Mythic+ invitations if we know he will be one of the group. Et cetera. Over time, one person can in fact contribute to a guild’s decline, even in the absence of overt drama. The situation can be insidiously damaging.

Luckily, these situations often self-correct — That Guy decides he is not sufficiently appreciated and leaves the guild, or he initiates an obvious drama situation that causes him to be kicked. Still, it is uncomfortable until that happens.

Meanwhile, I think I may have a conflict with next week’s raid ….

On world quests and rewards

In a recent post in his game design blog, Greg Street (aka Ghostcrawler) wrote a few words on the art and science of game rewards. It started me thinking about how Blizz has structured rewards in Legion. Overall, I would give Blizz a C+ on this aspect of the expansion. They have done some really innovative things, but on the other hand they have made much of the reward process needlessly frustrating and/or manipulative. I am not talking about difficult — I don’t mind working to achieve something I want in the game — I am talking about things that just seem to operate on the “gotcha” principle for no good reason, or mechanics Blizz thinly disguises as “content” but are in reality vehicles for forcing certain kinds of game play.

Today I want to focus on one part of the Legion reward system: world quests.

I liked the idea of world quests early in Legion, and I am still basically a fan, especially with the emissary twist. My main hunter does not need any of the gear or gold or class hall resources they offer, but I still usually crank out some of them for mats or AP (anything above 300k, more about this below). But I run as many as I can of them when I am focusing on one of my alts. Most of them are fairly quick (especially now that I can almost run them in my sleep), and frequently the rewards are useful to my alts.

I think the tying of faction rep to these quests was a good idea, and I don’t mind that vendor-purchase items are in turn tied to achieving faction rep. If I am interested in being able to buy things from a particular vendor, I am fine with working a bit to be allowed that privilege.

I make sure to run all the offered emissary quests on whichever alts I am working on  — if I can find the time — mainly for the chance of getting a legendary, but I am kind of conflicted about this aspect. It is a fact that you cannot play a character in Legion to any reasonable level of competency without two of the “good” legendaries — whatever they may be for that spec. So I chase them on my focused alts, mainly via emissary quests and LFR, but it makes me feel manipulated. It seems bad enough that every character must have a certain weapon and only that weapon for the entire expansion, without requiring certain other additional gear as well.

But the main reason I still run world quests is part of the minus side of them: artifact power. Blizz has had a stunning turnaround on the whole idea of AP.

Prior to 7.3, Ion Hazzikostas several times reminded us that once a player reached Convergence on their artifact weapon, the amount of AP required to advance it further was, BY DESIGN, ridiculously high in an almost logarithmic progression. This was because — so he told us — Blizz did not want players to feel like they had to continually grind AP, that the idea was that it would just be a somewhat small additional reward for doing normal game activities like emissary quests, random instances, mythic dungeons, etc. Additionally, so he said, the design was that players who played many hours each day would not have a significant artifact level advantage over players who might play only a few hours a week.

In other words, the whole artifact trait mechanism was designed to become less and less important once the 7.2 Convergence point was reached.

Then, in what seems to have been a sudden reversal of design policy, in 7.3 Blizz introduced a whole new artifact weapon leveling system in the form of relic traits and the crucible. They tied it to AP and Convergence levels, and to make the new levels possible to attain they re-introduced a form of artifact knowledge, except they removed player control of AK progression and just time-gated it with weekly increases. The net result was to make AP once again important to players and to make grinding it a productive activity again.

And a true grind it is. There are several reddit threads in which mathematically-inclined people have analyzed ratios of AK to AP and estimated time required to get to certain points. But the thing I have noticed for my hunter is this: In spite of both AK increasing every week and AP increasing with each new level, it still takes me about a week to gain a level. This will change after I reach level 75 and after AK rates stop increasing, but it strikes me that this a whole new way to gate character power. Blizz for some reason has opted for an incredibly complex method to do this — why didn’t they just set a limit on how much AP you can earn in a week, or how many levels you could increase your artifact level?

Even more interesting, why was there this complete 180 on AP design? Why did we go from the official “We don’t want you to chase AP” to “Here is a whole new reason to chase AP — ready, set, GO!” ?

One obvious reason: MAU. My guess is that they saw their MAU levels falling as the AP rewards from game activities became less and less relevant for main characters. Players just stopped doing the daily stuff that was offering what had become insignificant rewards. So the magic metrics fell, causing this part of the Blizz world to start to look shaky in corporate eyes. Swinging into action — and without any apparent trace of embarrassment — they reversed themselves on the AP design philosophy, because chasing AP is the one thing that would bring raiders back to daily hours in the game. And raiders are the group Blizz values these days — basically anyone who runs regular or above raid tiers and Mythic+ dungeons.

It is nice that I can increase my alt artifact weapon traits by 10-15 or even more levels a day just by running a few world quests, but it is demoralizing that I have to continue to run them on my main just to feel like I will not be letting my fellow raiders down. Especially after all the assurances from Mr. Game Director Hazzikostas that after reaching Convergence, size artifact power doesn’t really matter.

If the all-important MAU numbers were falling, why could Blizz not have taken a different approach? For example, they could have significantly increased the non-AP rewards for emissary and world quests, and for early world bosses, or they could have added more cool mounts or pets as rewards for the non-Argus quests. They could have implemented some sort of catchup gear currency to be earned outside of Argus. They could have instituted a mechanism for alts whereby for the first two legendaries you win you get to pick which ones you want. They could have made Blood of Sargeras account bound, giving mains a reason to go out and get it, and giving alts reasonable-level gear with which to go and run their profession instances or to join regular raid groups or even just to compete on Argus without serial dying.

All of these things likely would have kept the MAU numbers up a bit. But Blizz does not design for players like this, they design for raiders, so the only idea they had was to re-institute the AP grind. Not the kind of creativity we are used to from Blizz.

So yeah — Legion reward system has some real A+ moments. Unfortunately it also has a lot of fail moments. Overall grade C+.

The problem with designing for the squeaky wheels

This blog is not exceptionally popular. On any given day I probably have less than 200 readers, small potatoes in the blogosphere. Of those, maybe less than 10% ever post comments, but I am nearly always impressed with how thoughtful and well-expressed those comments are, even when someone takes great issue with something I have written. I have rarely had to deal with trolls or rage-filled screeds. So I feel a tiny bit of pride that I seem to have attracted something akin to the top echelon of WoW blog readers.

I don’t reply to every comment, but I read every one of them, and even when I do not reply, I do think about every point made in them or sometimes just appreciate the humor of a well-expressed smartass retort. Every once in a while, though, a reader makes a comment that puts my brain into overdrive. This happened with a comment on my last post, from Marathal, a fellow blogger.

You can go back and check it out for yourself, but basically Marathal made the point that Blizz adjusts their game at least in part to remedy shortcomings expressed by players who have left the game, rather than by trying to figure out why people who have not left are still playing. This may seem like a subtle distinction, but the more I thought about it, the more profound I thought it was.

WoW has millions of customers, and with that many there will always be a pretty significant turnover — people leave the game, new people take it up. But Blizz sits up and take notice if many more are leaving than are joining. We do not know if this is happening lately, because they stopped publishing subscription numbers after the great exodus during the first few months of Warlords of Draenor. But we are still feeling the effects of game design changes Blizz made in response to that exodus.

The big public complaint about WoD was that there was a lack of “content”. People left the game, so Blizz tells us, because they felt that once they had leveled up their characters, there was nothing to do. Thus, in Legion, Blizz went berserk overcompensating for this perceived shortfall. We have world quests (basically just a lot of dailies, renamed), an artifact weapon designed to be endlessly upgraded, flying  gated both by time and long-grind achievements, lottery-drop super gear in the form of RNG legendaries (lots of them, so once you get one you do not quit trying), a renamed WoD garrison with continuing quest lines, professions that can only be maxed out by participating in activities that require high level gear and good luck, quality of life items gated behind tedious rep grinds, Mythic+ dungeons designed to keep players running the same instances over and over indefinitely, classes/specs that only perform adequately with certain levels of gear with certain secondary stats— well, you get the idea.

Basically, Legion is a response to all the players who quit in WoD. It is Blizz saying, “You want content? I got yer content right here, whiners!”

Did it work to bring these players back? We don’t know for sure, absent subscription numbers, but certainly it brought some back. There is anecdotal evidence that many of the same players who left in WoD and came back for Legion, though, continue to take significant breaks from the game as soon as they have plowed through whatever the current patch is, waiting for another flurry of game activity with the next patch, then leaving again, etc. I would love to see the weekly-fluctuating MAU numbers over the course of an entire Legion patch.

Meanwhile, what about the players who did not leave during WoD? Why did they stay, in the face of the gigantic “No content!” outcry? Clearly, this was not a good enough reason for them to quit the game. I can only speak for myself, but I stayed because I think the game is big enough for me to always find my own content, and for something more complex: I like the feeling of maxing out my character for the expansion and then having total freedom to do whatever the hell I want to when I log on. It is my favorite part of every expansion. I usually set some loose game goals at the start — max out professions, be a contributing member of a heroic-level raid team, enjoy most of the expansion’s perks, have the leisure to develop all my alts, etc. — and when I reach that point I feel a real sense of accomplishment.

I feel like Legion has taken that away from me. In their zeal to appease the players who demand to have their game goals set for them, Blizz has designed an expansion that never lets me achieve mine.

One quick example: Our raid leader — a terrific generally laid-back guy — recently said that he expects all raiders for the next tier (due in about 3 weeks) to have achieved level 75 on their main artifact. Given that I am currently only at level 69 and that each new level requires billions and billions of AP, my life for the next 3 weeks will pretty much consist of me grinding out every AP-reward world quest every day, because I want to keep raiding in the next tier. It will also require me to run some M+ dungeons (which I am not a fan of) to get the huge weekly AP bonus from running a +10 or higher. In short, a year into Legion, my game time will not really be my own.

Sure, I brought this on myself by wanting to be part of a raid team. But my point is, Blizz designed our main piece of Legion gear to be not only indispensable, but also a never-ending grind. Our RL is merely doing his job requiring us to keep up with the grind, because that will actually make a difference in our next-tier progression rate. This may be the first time in WoW history when merely having the previous tier’s gear will probably be insufficient to tackle the next raid tier — we will need to have a separate progression on our weapon, one not connected directly with tier.

Blizz designed the artifact weapon — and nearly all of Legion — to appease the short-attention-span people who left the game in WoD, not to appeal to the people who did not leave.

There is an obvious danger in this design approach. Blizz runs the risk of not being able to keep up with the demands of the easily-bored, and in the process of trying, of making the game ultimately abhorrent to the steady, patient, loyal group of players that are still the game’s core, no matter how much Blizz may wish to deny it. Each of us has our own point of no return, our own final straw. We may not be able to articulate what that is, but we will recognize it when it happens. For me personally, I feel a loss every time Blizz removes game play options, every time they force me into a certain track in order to achieve one of my goals. With Legion, I have seen that trend accelerating. What happens in the next expansion may well determine how much longer I stay in the game.

I wish Blizz would see what they are doing to their most loyal players, and I wish they would realize that they cannot sustain a game entirely with the hard-core pros. (It’s not the elite top 10% who pay the bulk of the monthly subscriptions, after all.) WoW won its preeminent place in the gaming world because it was available to nearly everyone, because it offered as much to the casual player as it did to the hard core types. It really was a game for the masses, and I am saddened that apparently Blizz believes that was a bad thing. For it now to become accessible almost exclusively to the pros, to those who have the desire and luxury of devoting hours to it every day, is in my opinion a betrayal of the very roots of the game.

So, yeah, a shout out to Marathal for really making me think. And thanks to my few but loyal readers — you are tops in my book.

Thinking is thirsty work, though, and and thus it is time for me to grab a beer and start a weekend. 😉 You all enjoy yours, too.

Blizzcon. Whee and danke shoen.

I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that, for the first time in my WoW life, I bought a virtual ticket to Blizzcon. The only reason I did it is because I wanted the in-game mount they were using as an enticement. Clearly, the ploy worked for some people. I do like the mount, have had some fun flying around in it (not in Argus, of course, because that would be so wrong).

But now I find myself with this virtual ticket to something that I am having a hard time getting very excited about. Kind of like when your gramma gives you $20 and a ticket to the Wayne Newton Comeback Concert Tour for your birthday — you are glad for one part of it, not so sure about the other. Still, you have the ticket so you might as well use it, you think, maybe there will be a wine bar…

In an attempt to generate a little interest in the event, I checked out the official schedule, looking for events I might actually be interested in. The main 2-day schedule calls for something like 40 total hours of actual Blizzard game info sessions on their various franchises, and 70 hours of esports. (I did not actually count the open “community” time, nor did I include the some 15 hours of esports events that happen prior to the opening ceremony.) If you needed any more confirmation that Activision Blizzard is all in on esports, this is it.

Of the game info events, a bit under 8 hours are identified specifically as WoW events. This seems very balanced, given that Blizzard has 5 major IPs/franchises, so I guess at least WoW is holding its own, getting its full 1/5 share of the 40 hours. About half of the WoW-specific events seem like they are just fluffy time fillers, but still, they are WoW-centric, so that is something I suppose.

As far as I know, there hasn’t been much in the way of leaked rumors about any big WoW-related announcements coming in Blizzcon. I guess that could be because Blizz has really clamped down on leaks, or it could just be that there will be no big announcements. I am betting on the latter.

But with only one hour devoted to “What’s Next” in the game, my hunch is that we will get some amorphous description of the next expansion, but no concrete announcement, no expansion name or target date, no information on major new mechanics or changes, etc. Which means my original prediction that Legion will be a 3-year expansion is still viable. Absent very detailed progress on the next expansion, with a beta starting around the first of the year, it seems impossible that we will have a new expansion by Legion’s 2-year anniversary. If I am wrong, I will publicly and happily eat my words.

I really hope the speculation from earlier this summer on the next expansion (Old Gods/Kul Tiras) is not true. I am not sure what would be better, but my gut says almost anything.

And, since I am shamelessly trying to pad this post because I have almost nothing to write about, here are a few links to things I have recently written about the next expansion, in sequential order starting in February of this year. You don’t have to click on them, I am just filling up space. Also setting up a quick reference so after Blizzcon I can go back and verify that either I was brilliantly prescient or epically wrong. 😉

One thing that seems likely is that after Blizzcon we will at least have a general idea of where the next expansion will take place, even if we do not have many details. The real speculation and deep dive data mining can start in earnest then.

Usually my favorite part of Blizzcon is the WoW Q&A, but lately this genre has become little more than a way for Blizz to toot their own horn. I am getting tired of hand-picked questions like, “Can you tell us what part of Argus you like best, and how the team came up with such an awesome idea?” I will probably tune in to watch this year’s session, but I am not expecting it to be very exciting.

So, yeah, only about 10 days until Blizzcon. I am trying to feel the hype but failing at it. Maybe as the time gets closer I will build up a little more enthusiasm. But hey, even if I don’t, at least I have the mount.

Non-legendary legendaries

Over the weekend I was reading up a bit on the 7.3.x upcoming changes — I opted not to dabble on the PTR this time — and I came away feeling pretty cranky about the whole legendary mechanic for Legion.

What got me going, of course, is the description we have so far for the one of the new pseudo-legendaries, Aman’Thul’s Vision. (Set aside for the moment that I was predisposed to hate it if because the name contains one of Blizz’s pretentious, senseless, and unfortunately ubiquitous apostrophes.) From what I can glean, it is a legendary trinket that is not really a legendary, in that it does not count as one of your two equipped legendaries. It does, however, count as your one allowed Titan/Pantheon Trinket (more on that below), and so now in addition to figuring out which legendaries to equip, along with which tier pieces and regular trinkets to equip, we will have to also figure out which trinkets are not allowed to play together. More fodder for the super computers.

The trinket itself is a stat stick, increasing all secondary stats to the player — crit, mastery, haste, and versatility. Additionally, it has a chance to proc tertiary stats — yes, I regret to say we have come to this sad situation — so at random intervals the player will get a buttload of speed, avoidance, and leech for 12 seconds. But the real presumed power of the thing is its use in a raid, where, if at least four players have the thing equipped, and if all four happen to randomly have overlapping procs, then an additional wildcard is proc’ed, giving the players a huge primary stat increase for a few seconds.

This is that stupid WoD ring on steroids, but with the added “feature” of it being totally random, no player control needed! This, of course eliminates the LFR problem of “premature use”, when that one inevitable idiot proc’ed the ring on the first round of trash. Now RNG can do that for you!

Who doesn’t love more RNG in the game, huh?

Now, when first I read about this trinket, I was thinking, OK, this is how Blizz gets around the 2-legendary restriction. They have vowed up and down that we will not/not/not be able to equip more than 2 legendaries, because that would be needlessly — something. So of course they cannot now change their minds on this important point. Instead, they craft an item that looks like a legendary, walks like a legendary, and quacks like a legendary, but they tell us it is not a legendary! So now we can equip two legendaries plus a thing that looks exactly like a legendary but trust us it is not one.

Yeah.

As silly as this sounds, it is actually much more complex — and ridiculous — than that. The trinket is part of en entire system of “Argus Pantheon Trinkets”, with a whole set of rules for how/when to equip them, ways to upgrade them, etc. Of course most of them are random drops on Argus, and they appear to have fairly specific circumstantial uses, so here is a whole new reason for players to grind out shit on Argus. (Aman’thul’s Vision, the exception, is a loot drop from the final boss of the new raid tier. Which means this is not for casual players, it is only available to raiders, yet another example of Blizz pandering to the pros.)

And the trinket system? Well, you can check out a pretty detailed description of it here, but I warn you it almost takes a degree in physics or engineering to understand it. Basically, Blizz has overlaid the Legion legendary system onto trinkets.

Think about that for a moment.

Blizz, in the persona of Mr. Game Director Hazzikostas, has several times admitted that they made a mistake with the whole Legion legendary system. They have applied numerous bandages to it to try and fix it — bad luck insurance, increasing the drop rate of the first couple in order to help alts compete, incorporating some of the effects into baseline spec abilities, nerfing the stupidly-OP ones, etc. But the fact remains that Legion legendaries to this day just plain stink as a concept. They strictly limit a player’s options — once you embark for a few months on a certain spec, it becomes very difficult to switch if you do not have the required legendaries for it, and even if you do not want to switch specs (say nothing of class), you are handicapped for some aspects of the game if you have not had the good luck to get the “good” legendaries. Additionally, they make an already-complex gear system vastly more so.

And now Blizz — who have admitted Legion legendaries were not their best idea — have doubled down on the concept by introducing an entire trinket system that is a virtual twin of the legendary system.

What.

The.

Fuck.

Recall that this is exactly what happened with garrisons in WoD. Fairly early in WoD, Blizz admitted that the garrison system had turned out badly, that it had unintended adverse results for the health of the game, that players hated it. So what did they do for 6.2? Yep, they doubled down on it, requiring not only player garrisons but also expanded garrisons with shipyards to even be able to see the new patch content. Garrisons stunk as an idea, so what better course of action than to increase their importance!

I have said it before and now I will say it again, when you are in a hole you cannot get out of, the first rule is to stop digging.

I am sure we will all meekly accept the new Argus legendary trinket system, and we will dutifully chase them for months. Some of us will chase the non-legendary legendary trinket as well, and will grind away trying to get the gizmo to upgrade our other Pantheon trinkets into additional non-legendary legendaries, so that we can have an entire range of encounter-specific gear for almost every possible situation. We will carry around a ton of gear to be able to swap it out even if we never change specs, and we will haunt the web-based banks of computers to calculate the best gear set for every eventuality.

But is this really fun? More to the point, is the overhead becoming so high to get to the fun part that there is a serious cost-benefit deficit? It is a mark of how much I and others love this game that we have stuck with it for so long, even in the face of a relentlessly creeping complexity that is now nearing — or possibly well past — the level of stupidly ridiculous.

And with each new level of complexity the players cede more control, ironically lose more options. We are at the mercy of probability to get legendaries, to get tier gear, to get “good” legendaries and trinkets. And even after we have negotiated the probability minefield to get one of the new trinkets, we will not be able to control when to use it. It’s one thing for this to be the case with minor trinkets, where you might get a small individual boost randomly from equipping them, but it is a whole different thing for this to be how it works for a major buff that can affect the success or failure of an entire raid, after players have ground out what will likely be many final-boss kills just to get the ability. Or more accurately, just to get a lottery ticket.

Do the frogs ever get to the point of “This water is getting too hot, I’m outta here!”?

Clearly, I do not know the answer to that. I am still here, paddling around.

On break

I am taking a short (one week) break from this blog. Blizz pretty much has a lid on any real news until Blizzcon, plus I need a little recharge time. See you back here on the 23rd.

Petty but constant annoyances

This is another post you can easily skip and miss nothing!

There are incredibly minor aspects of this game that — not to put too fine a point on it — just bug the sh*t out of me. They mean less than zero when viewed in the context of the enormity and complexity of the game, but they are like little gnats continually buzzing in my face. It being the end of the week, and there being little else that occurs to me to write about, here are some examples:

  • Quests being forced upon you.
    • A couple of years ago, Blizz instituted a terrific feature that allowed you to ignore a quest you did not wish to do and also did not wish to have staring you in the face every time you logged on or looked at a map. For some reason, they took away that very nice quality of life feature. Why? Well, it turns out that Nanny Blizz was saving us from ourselves again. This is the closest I could find for a semi-official reason, a green post in a forum from earlier this year:

      I can only suspect it’s because of the amount of players who have used it on important quest lines like artifact quests not realizing it hides it, and they open tickets. There have been so many forum posts on the support forum where players have done it.

      Honestly I didnt even realize it was gone, but I avoid using it so I can do it later without having to remember which quest I ignored.

      Yeah, that’s right — apparently some of us were too stupid to know how to use the feature, and our tickets about it were annoying poor overworked Blizz GMs, so in a pique of spite they just removed it.

    • Even more annoying to me lately are the Broken Shores invasion scenarios. Not only can you not ignore them and not be bothered by them, but you cannot even decline the quest (the one that says “Do 4 of these invasion world quests”). If you even fly through the zone, you must accept the quest, or it will hang forever (well, until the invasion is over) in your quest tracker. Why is that? Why can we not say, “No” to these invasions?
  • Nomi. Yeah, OK, there is almost nothing not annoying about this NPC, but specifically:
    • You have to close and reopen the chat window with him every time you change the mats you give him. The window does not permit, say, checking off 2 work orders with Mossgill Perch, 3 with Fatty Bearsteaks, and the rest with all those damn eggs you seem to collect. Oh no, you must close the window and start over again for every mat you want to use.
    • Those stupid cooking pages (forget what they are called now) that you collect 10 of in order to upgrade a recipe. It turns out that once you have upgraded all your recipes, you still collect them. But you can’t turn them in anywhere (if you attempt to “use” 10, you get a notice that says you have nothing to upgrade), you can’t vendor them or send them to an alt, and you can’t collect more than 10. Which means you cannot even clear your Nomi table if there is one of the pages sitting there. You can only throw them away.
  • Kirin Tor rep awards are still soulbound. ???? Why, when nearly every other special rep token is BoA? Makes zero sense.
  • Spawn rates. Specifically, they are often either way too slow or way too fast. For the most part, I will admit, Blizz has gotten better at adjusting the rates, but there are still areas where they are maddening.
    • There are still a ton of places on Argus where large numbers of mobs spawn faster than you can even pick up your loot, where they spawn so fast you do not have a chance to mount up even after you have killed dozens of them in the same area. Few things are more annoying to me than completing a quest and then not being able to leave an area until I kill vast numbers more of the same mobs I had to kill vast numbers of just to get into the place or do the quest.
    • And in a somewhat related vein, why is that my entire hunter posse — bodyguard, main pet, Hati, and leftover dire beasts, all seem to congregate exactly on top of corpses to be looted, causing me to do a little positioning dance every time I want to target something for looting (whether by me or using the Fetch mechanic)? Often I have to actually time my mouse selection to fit between dire beast wingbeats. This, of course, slows even more my ability to loot stuff and get out of the area before millions of trash respawn.
    • On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are still quests where objects are not tag-shared, and those objects are so scarce there are 5-10 players all vying for the same one. Also, not for nothin’, but this is the kind of scenario that does not exactly encourage anyone to behave politely — we all become greedy me-first types. I really don’t understand why Blizz continues to use these kinds of single-tag objects in the game. They clearly have the technology to make them shared, at last by 4-5 non-grouped players, so why do they not always use that mechanic?
    • And in a related gripe, why is there still the artificial Alliance-Horde tagging restriction in shared areas? It does not apply to world bosses or even to world quest elites, so why is it still a thing for gathered mats and trash mobs?
  • Tome of the Tranquil Mind. Worst mechanic ever.
    • It is nothing more than an annoyance, and a major one at that. It does not make major money for inscriptionists, and it really discriminates against certain specs that Blizz has designed to almost have to switch talents depending on the fight.
    • In raids, unless you holler out to everyone to STOP so you can switch talents, there is an excellent chance your tome will be wasted, since almost certainly the raid will be in combat before you get a chance to switch. By the time they are out of combat, the tome will have expired.
    • People who do not carry tomes have to stop the entire raid so they can go back to Dal or someplace to switch, then make their way back to the raid or get summoned if the raid has a warlock.
    • There is almost never a situation where more than one player needs to switch talents at the same time, thus the raid-wide version of the tome is even more useless.
    • This really does seem to be designed merely to annoy players — I have never heard any kind of satisfactory explanation for its existence, other than the “poor scribes need to make some coppers” one.
    • Recall, actually, that it was — in theory — implemented as a “compromise” back in the Legion Beta phase. There was a huge flap over the Beta mechanic that charged ever-increasing amounts of gold every time a player changed specs. In short order (a little too short, in my opinion, as if possibly the entire flap had been a diversion from the original plan), Blizz offered a “compromise” in which changing specs would be free but you would have to use the tome to change talents in a non-rest area.
      • This seriously made zero sense, since it did not even address the same purported issue.
      • Blizz rapidly switched explanations from “compromise” to “scribes gotta make gold, too”.

OK, that is it for petty annoyances. I am sure if I really thought about it, I could come up with more, but it is Friday and the weekend is upon us. I am starting mine, and I hope you get to start yours soon, too.